As much as I enjoyed taking part in structured events like the Western States 100, they were no longer enough for me. I felt a deep yearning to go even further, to break free from the wildly loose confines of periodic course markers, sporadic aid stations, and occasional support found in most ultramarathons, and to try something really over-the-top. So I started doing my own thing. I ran a 199-mile, 12-person relay race alone as a team of one. I’d sometimes run unsupported through the mountains for days. Sure, it was extreme, and it was unusual, but it was me, and it made me happy. It was what I loved to do, my way of following my heart. That’s probably why I’m still at it. Dean has never followed a structured training plan in his life because, he said, it reduces the run to a training stimulus, and I want it to be an adventure. He runs 80 to 120 miles in a typical week, but not the way others do. One day he might run 5 miles, the next day 50 mileswhatever he has time for. He does not follow the principle of alternating hard days and easy days; instead, he runs more or less as hard as he can relative to the distance he covers every time he heads out the door. He competes in races and participates in other noncompetitive running events almost every weekend (and often during the week) year round. He does all of these things because he enjoys them, and indeed the pursuit of enjoyment is his one and only explicit training principle, which, he and I agree, should be every runner’s guiding principle. If you don’t enjoy training, you’re doing something wrong, he says.
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